The Anatomy of an Irresistibly Good Blog Post
Wanna know a secret? This is not my first blog. Way back in 2011, I had a cute little Blogger blog called The Cowboy in Me. I started it shortly before I got married to share wedding plans and eventually document the fixing up of our fixer upper.
It was a massive failure.
I shared riveting posts like "How should I wear my hair with this veil?" and "Hey, we have hardwood floors! Hardwood floors get dirty. Look at all the dirt I just swept off my hardwood floors!" (I really wish this was a joke. It isn't.)
After The Cowboy in Me died its quiet death, I knew I wanted to start a blog to go along with my editing business---except this time, I was determined to do it right. That was easier said than done. My heart was in the right place, but my execution was sloppy.
I'd heard that you need to post consistently, so I'd spend hours each week writing posts no one was reading instead of actively reaching out to potential clients.
I wasn't sure what to write about, so I looked at what other editors were blogging and tried to follow in their footsteps. The problem: most of these editors were more than twice my age and targeting a different client base!
I wanted to appear knowledgeable, so I settled on writing about grammar tips. But unless you're Mignon Fogarty, no one religiously follows the blog that reminds you of high school English.
None of the blogging strategies everyone talked about were doing me any good. I could write a kick-ass literary analysis, but I didn't know the first thing about how to write a good blog post.
Three years and a truckload of mistakes later, I'm finally confident in my ability to write a post people actually want to read. But did you catch how long it took? THREE YEARS!
I don't want you to have to stumble along making the same mistakes I did. There's no reason your blog can't be awesome right now. You just have to know how to write an irresistibly good blog post.
1. An introduction that connects with your audience.
Journalists are taught to start each article with a hook that grabs their readers' attention and keeps them reading. Blogging is no different. There are kajillions of blog posts out there (this is a scientific number). Readers need a dang good reason to be reading yours instead of someone else's.
A solid introduction not only gets readers thinking about your topic but connects with your them on a deeper level, whether it's through humor, a shared experience, or a story (like the one I used to start this post).
(At this point, I'd like to go on the record and say that every time I type "connect on a deeper level," I feel like a copywriter for eHarmony.)
Use language that appeals to your readers. Pique their curiosity. Make them feel like you're their new friend and you're gabbing over a shared Molten Lava Chocolate Fudge Cake from Chili's. (Because it is never too early in a friendship to share this glorious dessert.)
2. Details, details, details!
Do you ever click through a pin that looks amazing, only to find a blogger regurgitating the same information you've read five times before? Nothing frustrates me faster than bloggers who skim the surface instead of providing information people can actually use.
Your blog needs to be more than a Pinterest-worthy image of some gal with a great manicure typing on her iMac.
List out all the points you want to cover in your blog post. Do they directly apply to your readers? What sort of information do you need to give to help your readers take action? What do you need to add to make sure they're not left with questions?
This strategy works even if you're not strictly writing about an "informative" topic. Let's say you're a lifestyle blogger. You can still dive deeper into your topic than many bloggers do. Are you reviewing a cleaning product? Include your best tips for cleaning each room of the house. Are you sharing a personal story? Be vulnerable. Show readers the real you instead of just a persona.
Following this guideline means your blog posts will probably get pretty long . . . and that's a good thing! Long-form content is great for SEO, and as long as your information is truly helpful, readers will be more than happy to stick with you.
3. Skimmable content.
Just because you're providing lots of information doesn't mean your post has to be hard to read! Use headers, bullet points, and photos to break up all that text. (Bonus points if the photos actually show readers how to do something!)
This is also a good time to revisit your overall blog design. Is your font too small or too difficult to read? Is your text still center aligned? (Sorry to be the one to tell you this, but it shouldn't be.)
Skimmable posts packed full of quality info = happy readers who can find exactly what they're looking for. They'll appreciate it, and they might even show their thanks by becoming a regular reader.
4. Relevant links.
Some people think external links only serve to take readers away from their site, but that's not the case! Linking to relevant sites is a blogging best practice. You're showing the world (and Google) that you're not hoarding your traffic and that you want your readers to have all the info they need---even if it's not on your own site.
Other bloggers notice when you link to them. Many will even leave a comment or send a note thanking you! The blogosphere is built on making solid connections, and sharing your traffic with others is a great way to show your support for your fellow bloggers. Just make sure you set your links to open in a new tab so readers aren't taken away from your post!
5. Relevant links. (Yes, again.)
External links are great, but don't forget to link to your own content, too. You worked hard on all those blog posts; don't let them fade away into obscurity!
If your content strategy is solid, all your posts will work together to add value for your readers, so there's no reason not to send readers back to a specific post or two. As long as you've built up a few months' worth of strong posts, you should be able to link to at least one relevant post from the archives.
This doesn't just have to go for blog posts. Send readers to one of your social media profiles, a video you recorded, or a Facebook group you run. Just make sure everything you link adds value! No one likes a spammy blogger.
6. Actionable takeaways.
Most of us are great at reading up on a topic . . . but not so great at taking action to make things happen. Make it easy for your readers by providing actionable takeaways. Here are some of my favorite strategies for this:
- Create a free worksheet or checklist for your readers.
- Issue a challenge to make a change. Follow up on it in another post.
- Add a clear directive to each step of your post (like Regina does in the "homework for adults" that she includes in nearly every post).
- Start a new hashtag and encourage readers to share their progress on social media.
- Ask a question that encourages discussion and ideas in the comments.
7. A call to action.
The call to action (CTA) is where you tell your readers what you want them to do next. It's not the same as an actionable takeaway---that's for your reader to take action on the information you provided. The CTA is when you tell your reader the next step to interacting with you and your content.
Without a clear call to action, most readers close out of your website and forget all about you as soon as they finish reading. The CTA is what gives you staying power.
CTAs don't have to be sleazy. Try one of these CTAs in your next post:
- Ask readers to leave a comment.
- Tell readers what they'll get if they subscribe to your newsletter and invite them to opt in.
- Ask readers to follow you on social media.
- Explain how one of your relevant products or services might benefit your reader and ask them to check it out.
- Ask readers to share your post if they found it helpful.
- Tell readers to hit you up with any lingering questions through email, social media, or your blog's comment section.
Your CTA should always be related to the content you just shared. Don't forget to keep your long-term goals in mind when deciding on your call to action!
It's your turn to create irresistible content.
These tips don't just apply to blog posts. Use them any time you interact with your audience, whether it's on Periscope and YouTube or through free printables and webinars. Your content goes far beyond your blog. Make sure you're always providing the value your readers need!